Ms. Libby Davies (Vancouver East, NDP): – Mr. Speaker, stopping InSite will drive the most vulnerable, often homeless, drug users in Vancouver’s downtown east side back to sharing dirty needles, risking HIV infection in alleyways with filthy conditions and no medical assistance if they overdose. Dead people do not go into treatment.
Does the minister realize the safe injection site is the first point of contact for many users looking for help? In fact, has the minister ever met a person who shoots up? Has he ever taken the time to talk to a homeless drug user and ask them what they need to get off drugs?
Hon. Peter Van Loan (Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform, CPC): Mr. Speaker, the interest of this government is ensuring that people can get off drugs. The view of the government and the view of the Minister of Health is that supervising injection and supporting injection is not a way to get somebody off drugs.
Injection not only causes physical harm, it also deepens and prolongs an addiction. We believe that programs to help people get off their addictions should be supported and we believe that to spend money on supporting injection is actually to take money that could otherwise be used to help people get off their addictions and assist them in that kind of program.
That is what this government is interested in doing. That is why the Minister of Health is asking for an appeal.
Ms. Libby Davies (Vancouver East, NDP): Mr. Speaker, that is exactly what InSite is doing. It is helping people get off drugs.
I am so disgusted by this reply. I spent decades working in my community to make it safer. We have some minister with a chip on his shoulder who comes along and decides that drug users in my neighbourhood do not deserve to live. Why? Because he claims that the science is mixed.
The science is solid and it says that InSite saves lives. It is an outright lie to say that the science is mixed. It is an outright lie to say that only one life has been saved.
I ask again, will he immediately reverse his decision or is he content to see drug users die?
Hon. Peter Van Loan (Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform, CPC): Mr. Speaker, the view of this government is that drug addiction, heroin addiction, is very harmful to people’s lives and the way we help people with those kinds of addictions is by helping them to get off of those addictions.
The most important harm reduction measure is to get people off drugs. That is why we have incorporated harm reduction into our new anti-drug strategy. It is two-thirds prevention and treatment and one-third enforcement. That is the way that we think we can help people.
It does not help to send mixed messages to young Canadians that drug use is proper. It is wrong and we want them not using drugs.